Hemp vs Marijuana – A Beginner’s Guide

A lot of people may not know the difference between hemp vs marijuana, but it is important to learn about them before you make a purchase. Hemp plants are usually grown for their seeds and fibers while marijuana plants are grown for their buds that contain psychoactive substances like THC.

Even though hemp has low levels of THC, it is legal in all 50 states because of its less than 0.3% concentration on average per dry weight or wet weight basis (depending on which method used). Marijuana is illegal in many places around the world due to its high level of THC and negative side effects from smoking it.

Hemp and marijuana are used to make THC and CBD derived products that contain various health benefits like reducing anxiety and pain, but hemp flower and hemp oil products are typically used for non-psychoactive reasons.

Before testing either of them, understand first the key difference between hemp vs marijuana plants.

What is Hemp?

hemp farm

The term “hemp” is used to refer to cannabis that has 0.3% or less THC content by dry weight. Hemp’s use as a crop dates back more than 10,000 years ago in China where its fiber was first utilized for making textiles.

It began being cultivated because of the industrial hemp fiber which could be spun into linen thread and woven into the fabric. The hemp plant also produces hemp seeds, which are a food source and contain 30% protein.

With the ability to produce materials like hemp seed oil, paper, textiles, and clothing, industrial hemp is a major economic player in the CBD market. From the 17th to 19th century, people in Europe used hemp as animal feed rather than grain because it is much richer in protein.

The hemp plant is also used to produce CBD lotions, soap, and other beauty CBD products.

When the 2018 Farm Bill was passed into law, industrial hemp became legal as an agricultural commodity in all 50 states for commercial manufacturing purposes which included making food or clothing. The 2018 Farm Bill made industrial hemp more accessible than ever before.

This new bill allows producers like farmers to grow hemp plants without a permit from the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency). With no restrictions on who can grow it or manufacture with it, this means that anyone interested in growing hemp can do so legally and be able to sell their crops at any physical location across state lines.

Hemp’s status now has been changed from illegal drug material to legal industrial crop plant.

What is Marijuana?

marijuana cultivation

Marijuana, the half-sister of hemp which can also be called weed, pot, or ganja is the dried cannabis flower bud of the cannabis plant. The marijuana plant contains chemicals that affect the brain and can induce psychotropic or euphoric effects.

Marijuana contains more than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight and may be legal depending on location. People usually take it to feel good, reduce anxiety and promote appetite.

It can be smoked in a joint or a pipe, eaten as an edible, rubbed into the skin for pain relief and inflammation, used to brew herbal tea that is also called “cannabis tea” or consumed through what is known as dabs which are concentrated doses of marijuana typically referred as wax.

Marijuana affects various areas of the brain associated with a sensory perception such as sight and sound when inhaled. It may affect memory consolidation while increasing creativity due to altered neurochemistry which has been shown in animal studies on rodents.

The range of effects marijuana produces might depend on how often and how much a person smokes or consumes. A marijuana high will typically last two to three hours and the effects of marijuana use can continue for up to 24 hours after consumption.

THC is stored in fat cells where it breaks down more slowly than other drugs that are processed by enzymes in our liver like alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.

How is Hemp vs Marijuana Different from Each Other

Hemp and marijuana are both derived from the cannabis plant. Hemp plants, however, are grown to be a sustainable raw material utilized in various hemp products including clothing, paper goods, food supplements, and personal care.

It is a form of cannabis that does not have enough THC to produce any kind of psychoactive effect or make you “high.”

Marijuana, on the other hand, is cultivated for its high THC content that can produce an intoxicating effect and can be consumed through smoking, vaporizing, and oral means. It can be used as a drug for medicinal purposes by people with prescriptions, but it’s also been known to produce an intoxicating high when consumed in large doses.

It has higher THC levels than hemp plants do which creates this intoxication state on your body where your senses feel heightened and you’re more confident about things.

Although hemp will not get you high, it does contain cannabidiol for CBD, which is also found in marijuana. Unlike other cannabinoids, CBD is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid that interacts with receptors in the brain and the body’s immune system.

This makes both hemp and marijuana popular for medicinal benefits.

industrial hemp farming

Differences in Legality Between Hemp and Marijuana

In the booming cannabis industry, industrial hemp can be used legally in all 50 states because it contains less than 0.03% THC. However, marijuana is only legal in a handful of states to cultivate for medicinal purposes with the recommendation from a doctor.

The legality of marijuana can vary by state because it has to be used recreationally and medicinally with a doctor’s recommendation in order for it to be legally cultivated or purchased from a licensed dispensary. Some states still follow the Controlled Substances Act.

Hemp can be produced without limitations as long as its less than .03% THC content which is below the threshold that would define “marijuana” according to federal law definitions. The difference between hemp cultivation and marijuana cultivation creates different laws on how they are regulated within each state.

Some examples of these differences:

Colorado’s Initiative 20

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use on their citizens as long as they’re over 21 years old.

North Carolina’s HB 766

In North Carolina, marijuana is illegal and hemp cultivation is prohibited. Hemp can be imported to the state but cannot legally cultivate inside its borders without a permit from NCDA&CS.

Arizona’s Proposition 203

Medical use of marijuana has been legalized by voters in Arizona with Proposition 203 passing in 2010 as long as you have a doctor’s prescription.

Initiative 502 of Washington

The state of Washington has legalized medical and recreational marijuana use. Voters passed Initiative 502 on the statewide 2012 ballot with 55% of the vote. The new law decriminalizes the drug, legalizing its use by adults 21 and older.

Compassionate Use Act of 1996 of California

Medical cannabis plants have been legal in California since 1996, but it was only for approved medical uses with doctors’ prescriptions until Senate Bill 420 passed in 2003 which made it possible to buy marijuana under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 at a dispensary.

Minnesota Medical Cannabis Act

In Minnesota, marijuana is illegal but CBD oil and other hemp derived CBD products are legal for people with certain medical conditions to use and possess as long as they have been lawfully prescribed by their doctor or other authorized practitioners.

In fact, a drug derived from legal cannabis called Epidiolex had been removed from Schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act.

Hemp vs Marijuana – Differences Appearance and Cultivation

cannabis cultivation

Hemp and marijuana may look like the same species for others because they both belong to the cannabis family. But in reality, they differ in looks due to their different cultivating process.

Growers usually cultivate marijuana by planting the cannabis seeds in small pots of soil and fertilizing them. Hemp, on the other hand, is grown in very large fields.

Hemp is also grown without the use of any pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides which makes it a much healthier option than marijuana when consumed.

How They Differ in Appearance

One of the easiest ways to distinguish hemp and marijuana apart is their appearance. Hemp and marijuana differ in appearance which is a result of the growing and cultivating process.

Hemp is a tall, thin cannabis plant with long leaves and no flowers. Marijuana is short and bushy with small leaves that have buds on the tips of their branches.

Hemp also has very tough hemp fiber stalks while marijuana’s are much softer to the touch and break apart easier when they’re bruised or torn from the stem due to lack of lignin in its cell walls.

Marijuana plants are greener because it is grown in soil with a higher concentration of nitrogen. Hemp, on the other hand, has tough stalks and lacks any chlorophyll because they’re grown close to the ground where there’s less sunlight.

Difference in Cultivation

Hemp plants are cultivated in the soil in rows like other crops. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, require a lot of space to grow and need nutrient-rich solutions or some type of natural fertilizer for better growth.

Unlike marijuana, hemp is cultivated close to the ground so that it can develop tall stalks with low leaves while marijuana needs more sun than hemp because its flowers are at the top of taller stalks with much smaller leaves.

Marijuana seeds can be planted in soil, but hemp seeds must be pressed into the ground and need to stay moist, or else they won’t grow.

Marijuana is more sensitive than hemp because it’s grown in nutrient-rich solutions or natural fertilizers. Hemp is much less susceptible because of its tough stalks which are good at resisting insects.

Hemp grows close to the ground so there’s a greater amount of chlorophyll present while marijuana needs more ultraviolet light for photosynthesis and develops taller stalks with smaller leaves.

Hemp and Marijuana’s Potential for Medicinal Use

medical cannabis

Hemp and marijuana plants have a wide variety of health benefits. Hemp contains a naturally low concentration of THC, which is the chemical that gets people high. Hemp extract has been shown to help reduce nausea from chemotherapy and curb appetite loss in HIV/AIDS patients.

Hemp oil contains abundant omega-fatty acids: linoleic acid (omega-18), alpha-linolenic acid (omega-three), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). It also provides protein with all nine essential amino acids necessary for health maintenance.

Studies have found hemp brings relief from involuntary muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis sufferers; may offer therapeutic benefits such as decreasing the severity of asthma symptoms, and is an effective painkiller.

Marijuana’s benefits are more in line with its psychoactive effects, but it too has medicinal properties that deserve scientific research. Marijuana can be used to relieve chronic pain as well as nausea from chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients.

Some studies have found medical marijuana helps people who suffer seizures related to epilepsy find relief by stopping them altogether or reducing their frequency tremendously.

It also provides a boost in appetite for those undergoing chemotherapy because when marijuana alleviates vomiting and stomach discomfort, food tastes better. Hence leading to increased calorie intake, upwards of 20% increase.

Marijuana may also help protect the brain after a trauma like concussions or strokes through neuroprotective mechanisms.

Common Health Benefits of Hemp

  • It’s beneficial to the heart – hemp’s nutritional compounds can help prevent a range of health conditions.
  • Hemp is anti-inflammatory – hemp is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which produces compounds that can reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
  • Natural pain reliever – hemp’s omega-three fatty acids can act as natural pain relievers by binding to neuroreceptors that reduce the sensitivity of nerve endings.
  • It can be used to treat asthma – CBD is used in treating numerous inflammatory conditions – leading researchers to begin studying how this versatile phytocannabinoid may offer asthma patients relief.
  • Urinary conditions – hemp can increase urine flow and frequency by acting on the kidneys, which can be beneficial for people with urinary conditions.

Common Health Benefits of Marijuana

  • Stress relief – marijuana is known to relieve stress by activating receptors in the brain.
  • Alleviates depression – marijuana provides relief from symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and PTSD as well as reducing depressive episodes related to bipolar disorder.
  • Treatment for chronic pain – its neuroprotective cannabinoids are known to treat persistent and inflammatory pain while leaving healthy cells untouched.
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels – those who suffer from Type II Diabetes or candida may find help with marijuana since it prevents diabetic complications and restores insulin sensitivity so that glucose uptake can be improved.
  • Marijuana also suppresses nausea – it’s been found to be about twice as effective at reducing vomiting due to chemotherapy compared to prescription medication.

Both hemp and marijuana offer amazing benefits with minimal side effects and risks. But it’s always important to consult a health professional first before using it as a treatment for serious illness.

Side Effects of Using Hemp and Marijuana 

While both cannabis plants offer relief, other users may also experience some side effects. The most common side effects of using hemp derived CBD oil are dry mouth, throat irritation, and diarrhea.

These side effects usually occur when hemp is smoked or taken in high concentrations. The side effects vary and will depend on the dosage and the type of hemp derived CBD product used.

Marijuana can produce short-term anxiety, increased heart rate, dizziness, vomiting, or dry mouth. Although these symptoms may seem like a hassle to some, it’s only temporary and usually go away in less than an hour.

Depending on the dosage and the cannabis strains, marijuana can increase a person’s risk of experiencing psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. It may decrease a person’s ability to remember things or focus properly on tasks at hand – though this is not always the case.

Marijuana use also increases someone’s chance of developing dependency issues with cannabis if they’re using it often over time. For those who are predisposed to mental illness, marijuana could make their symptoms worse in some cases by worsening anxiety disorders and depression.

These effects vary depending on whether a user has schizophrenia or bipolar disorder before starting a treatment or how severe their illness already was.

Both hemp and marijuana offer amazing benefits with minimal side effects and risks but it’s always important to talk with professionals before you start any new treatment regimen just to make sure hemp derived CBD oil or marijuana products will work well for you.

Final Thoughts

Hemp and marijuana may differ in some ways but they are both incredibly beneficial. They offer all sorts of health, wellness, and environmental benefits that can be used in a variety of ways.

Whether you’re looking for pain relief or an eco-friendly source of energy, hemp and marijuana can be perfect for you.